A recent study suggests that photophobia contributes to time absent from work among those employed and suffering migraines. Photo: Getty Images.

Photophobia, or photosensitivity, is a common and bothersome symptom for most people during their migraine attacks. Few studies have investigated the relationship between photophobia with migraine-related disability, but a recent study in the Journal of Neuro-Ophthalmology, investigates the association of photophobia severity with work productivity, activity impairment and migraine-associated disability using data from a large cohort of patients with migraine who were enrolled into the American Registry for Migraine Research. The researchers found that severe photophobia was linked to reduced work productivity and higher presenteeism, absenteeism, activity impairment and migraine-related disability.

This study used Photosensitivity Assessment Questionnaire scores to investigate the relationship between photophobia severity with work productivity and activity impairment  and migraine-related disability among 1,084 patients with migraine. The average age was 46.1 years and 87.2% were female. Multiple linear regression models were developed to measure the relationships between photophobia scores with work productivity and activity impairment and migraine-associated disability, controlling for age, sex, headache frequency, headache intensity, anxiety and depression.

Among the 584 employed participants, 47.4% (n = 277) reported missing work in the past week because of migraine, mean overall work impairment was 42.8%, mean activity impairment was 42.5%, mean presenteeism score was 38.4% and median absenteeism was 0.

“These results highlight that photophobia, the most commonly identified, most bothersome non-headache symptom, independently from headache features, depression and anxiety, worsens migraine-related disability and functioning,” the authors wrote in their paper.

The researchers did point out that their results may not be generalizable to the larger population of people with migraine because the patients in American Registry for Migraine Research were enrolled from headache specialty clinics.

Leibovit-Reiben Z, Dumkrieger G, Dodick DW, et al. Photophobia contributes to migraine-associated disability and reduced work productivity: results from the American Registry for Migraine Research (ARMR). J Neuroophthalmol. August 14, 2023. [Epub ahead of print].